Denny Hamlin has selective memory about his own team’s cheating
Denny Hamlin found that out this weekend when he came right out and said he thought the RCR team had cheated, calling Bowyer’s defense ‘a crock’.
“You can really try to say 60-thousandths didn’t help him perform any better – that is a crock,” Hamlin said. “That helps a lot. When we gain five points of downforce, our car runs a ton better. … NASCAR has been very, very lenient on this car.”
Hamlin stayed on the offensive, saying: “They’ve given those guys chances. They should just be happy they’re in the Chase at this point. They were warned, and they were warned before Richmond and everyone in the garage knows that. They’re the ones that wanted to press the issue and get all they could to make sure they got in the Chase. They got in it and they were busted. In the garage, everyone has known it for months. It’s not two weeks old. They’ve been warned for a long time, way before Richmond. … They knew it was wrong way before that, and they wanted to get everything they could.”
Well, after all that, as you can imagine, the RCR team wasn’t about to take that kind of trash talk … so Kevin Harvick, or should I say Harvick’s car, had a word with Hamlin on the track and later the two exchanged not-so-friendly words in the garage. Nothing happened between them during Sunday’s race, but I’m sure Hamlin won’t be having brunch with anyone on the RCR team anytime soon.
After the practice incident Saturday, Hamlin said that Joe Gibbs Racing has more integrity than RCR. … (this isn’t true, but more on that later.)
"I think I have the right to give my opinion -- and when you look at the two teams, and you look at the history of wrongdoing and penalties, the two teams, when they are compared side-by-side, our integrity speaks for itself," Hamlin said. "I think everyone at our team knows we're trying to do things the right way, and so be it."
The best line in the whole mess came from Richard Childress, who said: "When you're talking about comments, you can't win a pissing match with a skunk. There are two things I've learned. One thing is that. The other is that you don't throw stones if you live in a glass house."
What Childress is referring to by the “glass house” comment is the rather hefty penalties handed out to the Joe Gibbs team a couple years ago when they cheated on a dyno test in the Nationwide series. Yes folks, this team that Hamlin claims is holier-than-thou placed magnets under their cars’ gas pedals to mask the true power of their engines. It was one of the worst cheating offenses I remember in recent years, much worse than the Bowyer offense, and led to lengthy suspensions of both the team’s crew chiefs in the Nationwide series.
While Hamlin is being a hypocrite in attacking RCR while forgetting his team’s cheating past, I will give him one point. He said that if a car can be made illegal by a bump from a tow truck, as Bowyer is claiming, then you’re pushing things too far. This is an accurate call.
With the Chase so competitive, I’m sure Bowyer and RCR wanted to do everything they could to move up in the standings quickly. Obviously, with Bowyer’s win (which still stands despite the penalty), that worked: But at what price. By cutting it so close on the specs, the RCR team got burned. A 150-point penalty and loss of your crew chief is already a Chase death blow. Add to that a nonimpressive run at Dover, and Bowyer is now so far out of 1st you might as well pencil him in for 12th place.
Bowyer insisted this weekend that he didn’t cheat, and that the team made sure they were within the limits after a previous warning: “We have a lot more integrity for myself and our race team at RCR," Bowyer said. But what do you expect him to say? No one in their right mind would admit to cheating, even if they did do it. The appeal is Wednesday, but if NASCAR overturns it I’ll eat my shoe. They would look stupid if they did that.
I didn’t think Bowyer would win the title anyway, even if this penalty hadn’t happened, but you can’t fault NASCAR for doling out this kind of harsh punishment. The way I see it, it’s clear-cut. If you don’t fall within the proper numbers, you get hammered. If it happens again, you can bet the penalty will be equally harsh or possibly more – to prove a point that cheating won’t be tolerated.
Still, I have a little advice for Denny Hamlin and others: Keep your opinions to yourself, because your team has cheated too and you know it.
Jimmie again … is anyone surprised?
I have a word of advice for anyone who got excited when Jimmie Johnson finished poorly at New Hampshire: Don’t get your hopes up.
Just when everyone thought he was vulnerable and began to speak as if he wasn’t the same old Jimmie, he goes out and wins the pole, then dominates and wins the race. Same old Jimmie, collecting another trophy in the Chase just like he’s done dozens of times before.
No one should be surprised by this, and it will probably happen again, or multiple more times, before the Chase is over. While his main competition engages in battles and insults on and off the track, Johnson is focused on winning races and winning a fifth-straight title. If he continues to race like he did at Dover, it shouldn’t be too difficult for him.
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